Craft beers – a vigorous boost for the brewing industry

How is the craft brewing movement influencing the German and international brewing industry? This was the initial question raised by anchorman Peter Meyer from the advertising agency c.t.b. in the drinktec’s discussion forum at the Innovation Flow Lounge, bringing together front-ranking brewery experts and journalists. And: what technology has to be in place in order to respond swiftly to new ideas? The day’s sponsor was Krones AG.

Dr. Ralph Schneid, the responsible Project Manager at Krones, explained: “One of the paramount preconditions for successful craft brewing is a high level of flexibility in the technology being used. This assures the brewers of options for producing a highly disparate range of different beers. And it offers opportunities for growth.” Jeff Maisel, proprietor of the Maisel Brewery in Bayreuth, has joined the fascinating world of craft beers with a subsidiary called Maisel & Friends. He fully concurred with Ralph Schneid’s analysis: “The time to market, from the initial idea for our craft beers was three years. The marketing was more or less the easy bit. What was more difficult was refining the beer. Breaking down a brewing batch from 300 hectolitres to 25 hectolitres, that was the real challenge.”

Michael Weiss, Managing Partner of the Meckatzer Löwenbräu Brewery, commented: “I’m delighted that this movement has taken off. It’s going to remain a niche, of course, but a very interesting one, where you can make money as well.“ Stefan Barth, CEO of the Barth Haas Group, recommended the craft brewers to focus their marketing work less on life-style themes and more on the actual products involved: “Try something new, you’ll be rewarded.” Dr. Lydia Winkelmann, Editor-in-Chief of the trade periodical “Brauwelt”, is convinced: “Quality has to remain affordable if it is to be successful, The craft brewing movement is at all events very valuable for beer’s overall image.”

“The biggest challenge for us as a machinery manufacturer is to offer equipment that firstly delivers consistently high quality and secondly permits ultra-flexible operations”, emphasised Ulrich Walk, Divisional Manager Process Technology at Krones. “That’s why a suitable, easy-to-handle control system like Botec is essential. A modularised system of kit like the CombiCube provides optimum support for the craft brewer’s typical mode of operation.” The message of the closing statement from Peter Meyer, at any rate, was shared by all participants of the “Talking Table”. “Craft brewing is a powerful trend. Above all, it offers a huge opportunity to re-awaken interest in beer.“

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